Capitol Hill Update from State Representative David Byrd September 9, 2020


   New law encourages alternative pain treatments to opioids — Legislation encouraging the use of more alternative pain treatments rather than opioids was approved during the 2020 session. Public Chapter 573 amends the state’s opioid reform legislation to include medical devices like pain pumps, spinal cord stimulators, occupational therapy and non-opioid medicinal drugs as non-opioid based alternative therapies for chronic pain. A 2019 law called for alternative pain treatment for chiropractic care, physical therapy, acupuncture, and other treatments to be encouraged for pain relief before opioids are dispensed. Both measures are part of an ongoing effort in Tennessee to provide alternative pathways to treat pain in order to curb opioid addiction, which has claimed the lives of thousands of Tennesseans.

   Legislation aims to reduce effects of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in Tennessee – Legislation aiming to reduce the risks and effects of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) in Tennessee has been approved. NAS is a condition in which a baby has withdrawal symptoms after being exposed to certain substances, such as medications or illicit drugs used by the mother during pregnancy. 

   Public Chapter 747 calls for the Department of Health, Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse and TennCare to develop educational materials for providers and facilities where medication-assisted treatment, including treatment involving controlled substances, is prescribed or provided. The educational materials will provide information regarding access to and availability of family planning services and contraception, the risks and effects of NAS, and approaches to client-centered counseling. 

   New Tennessee Rare Disease Advisory Council will advise government entities on complexities of treating rare diseases — The Tennessee Rare Disease Advisory Council will be established under a new 2020 law. Public Chapter 645 provides a skilled cohort of rare disease specialists from Tennessee’s leading clinical and academic institutions to advise government entities about the complexities of treating rare diseases and the most efficient and effective treatments. They will make treatment recommendations to advise TennCare and other public and private agencies providing services for persons diagnosed with chronic, complex, and rare diseases like hemophilia, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig’s disease and cystic fibrosis.

   Tennessee observed Rare Disease Day on the last day of February. The main objective is to raise awareness among the general public and decision makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives.

   New law ensures 911 operators are trained for CPR – Legislation passed the General Assembly this year to ensure 911 operators across the state are prepared to provide CPR instructions to a caller in an emergency situation. Previously, not all counties allowed 911 operators to run callers through CPR instructions. Public Chapter 575 ensures all 911 operators in the state will provide telecommunicator cardiopulmonary resuscitation (T-CPR), as well as receive proper training to administer it. The legislation also includes liability protection for those providing this service.

   As always, I am truly humbled and honored to be your voice on Capitol Hill. If there is ever any issue I can assist with, please reach out to my office by calling 615-741-2190 or emailing me at